Posts Tagged ‘social media’

TasteLive Participants: How Are You Engaging and Posting to #TTL ?

Top Social Media Resources: MarketingProfs Summer Series


Many of you who know me and know my story have heard that I’ve been exploring and engaging in social media for just over a year now after entering as a skeptic.  It was around that time that I became intrigued and then submerged myself in learning about how social media could help me to make my dream of helping wineries and small businesses become a reality.  Originally, I thought that traditional public relations and marketing services would be my core offerings.  But now, my business has evolved.  I find that I’m being sought out to help my clients with humanizing their brands and social media mentoring. And my dreams of a successful, fun business have been coming true.

I don’t call myself a social media expert, but mentoring based on my observations, studies and experience is a more accurate description of what I’ve been tasked with by my clients.  This is the first of a series of my top resources to pay attention to as you explore the possibilities in social media for your business or personal brand.

MarketingProfs Social Media Summer Series

This is a stellar line-up of thought leaders in social media.  The series is in progress, but if you purchase a Premium Plus membership, you gain access to all of the archived webinars with materials to play on demand.  I’ve viewed two of the series of nine so far and they are full of the latest research and information on relationship building, creating content, measurement, creating community, using social media for B-to-B marketing, public relations and to drive sales.  I’ve been a MarketingProfs Premium Plus member for several months now and I highly recommend their program to you.

The tactic that has been most helpful to me in navigating and embracing social media is reading about it regularly, attending webinars such as this series and keeping an eye on what’s happening with thought leaders who have successfully built their personal brands as trusted experts in their industries.  Much of the latest I’ve found by following thought leaders on Twitter and Facebook!

Are you already attending the series?  What are your impressions?  A recommended next step is to seek out your favorite presenters in this series on Twitter, Facebook and/or their blogs and watch for their updates.

Winery Resource Alert: The State of Wine Industry Social Media


More than likely, if you’re reading this post, you have an interest in gaining a detailed understanding of social media platforms and those that are most relevant to the health and happiness of your winery’s business. A group of the industry’s top thought leaders at VinTank, Derek Bromley and Tom Wark have compiled the first whitepaper specifically for the wine industry entitled, “The State of Wine Industry Social Media.”

The paper contains some tech-speak that may look a bit scary at first, but hang in there and read through to the end. These guys are in-the-know, have strong relationships in the wine industry with bloggers, traditional media and developers and seek to help you, the winery principal, to navigate and gain an understanding of the social media landscape. Facebook, Twitter, Wine Blogs, Wine Social Networks, Gary V and Wine Library TV are detailed specifically pertaining to their relevance to wineries and wine retailers.

Paul Mabray and team are eager to receive questions or input on the report and can be reached at: ADDRESS: 1250 Main Street Suite #270 Napa, CA 94559 • PHONE: 800.605.8265 • WEB: • EMAIL:

Or comment on the Tasting Room blog at

A special thank you to the VinTank team for mentions of myself, my client Andrew Kamphuis at Vin65 and senior strategist and wine blogger friend, Michael Wangbickler, on their thank you page.

UPDATE (5/12/09)

If you would like to listen to Paul Mabray discuss some of the key findings of the report, check this out

Social Media Quick Tips: Do a “Gut Check” Before Posting

I just saw this article as a “retweet” on Twitter from Gabriella Opaz, fellow wine blogger and wine marketing consultant at (A retweet is when one individual copies a tweet from someone in their network and shares it with their network, according to Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research.)

It’s important. For those who attended the recent Social Media Basics Workshop earlier this month, it reiterates one of the key takeaways of the workshop: the goal of social media interactions for wineries and small businesses is to build relationships. Transparency, authenticity, credibility and being real are all necessary to be successful on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Do it right and a social media presence can continue to build the bond with customers that was established in the tasting room.

Phil Jr., Assistant winemaker at Damiani Wine Cellars

Phil Jr., Assistant winemaker at Damiani Wine Cellars

This is a natural fit for small wineries and their staffs. What I’ve found most appealing about my experiences in local tasting rooms is the good natured, welcoming personalities behind the wine. Upload pictures from events, winemaking tasks, your customers, funny stuff that happens during your day, your staff interacting, etc. to your Facebook public profile and on TwitPic. Keep your customers interested by showcasing your winery’s personality.

Set aside a chunk of time each day to interact and update your status, share pictures and join the conversations that are taking place on these networks. If you’re questioning whether or not to put something out there, do a gut check. Ask yourself, “Is this appropriate? Am I being overly promotional and blatant in pushing my business?” Remember that although social networks welcome a much more casual voice, each post and update adds to the layer that is your personal brand and that personal brand reflects on your winery and business brand. Don’t forget to interact and respond to comments. You know, show that there are faces and real people behind your winery’s brand.

Amy Hoffman and staff of Rooster Hill Vineyards

Amy Hoffman and staff of Rooster Hill Vineyards

Social Media Quick Tips: Navigating Twitter

Twitter Blog Birds

During the recent Social Media Workshop presented to small businesses in Finger Lakes Wine Country, one of the interactive segments involved having attendees who had brought their laptops set up a new Twitter account and profile. I wanted to share a few quick tips on getting started and getting the most out of your Twitter interactions based on my experiences.

Carefully craft your bio

Use key words within your bio that will lead others with like interests or within your industry to find you during a Twitter search. Oftentimes, this bio will be the key factor in whether or not a Twitter user will opt in to follow your tweets. For example, my bio reads “Melissa Dobson PR & Marketing- Wine publicist by day, foodie in-training by night. Lover of the NY locavore/locapour movement & all things social media.” And definitely include your website or blog link.

Poke around

One of the great ways to get started or to enhance your experience on Twitter is by taking some time to look around. Search for a few of your colleagues or thought leaders in your industry and click through the profiles of those people that they’re following. Follow those that are of interest and sometimes those people will follow you back. They’ll be privy to your updates and streams of thought and vice versa. Another nice feature of Twitter is that for those that follow you back, you have the ability to direct message or dm them which works as a private message sent to the person similar to a private instant message. Just be careful to double check before you hit update to be sure that you have a “d ” in front of the recipient’s username in order to be sure that your message remains private.  There’s an envelope icon on each person’s avatar that you can click for a direct message.

You can also use the “Find People” feature that allows you to search and invite people to follow you who you have been in touch with on email platforms such as Gmail and Yahoo mail.

Twhirl and Tweetdeck

I realize that all of the updates and the fast pace of Twitter can be overwhelming at first.  I’m a fan of using desktop platforms to manage Twitter.

Twhirl is a desktop application that pops up on your desktop and will also provide a notification sound when someone either tweets you or includes you in a tweet.  You can customize the features to your liking.

Tweetdeck is another desktop application that allow you to set up customized columns to browse tweets by category, direct messages to you and replies to you from within the last 48 hours.

Each of these takes a few minutes to set up, but I find them to be very helpful in managing Twitter activity.  Check them out and I think you’ll enjoy Twitter more than you thought you would.  Join in a conversation that you’re interested in, click retweet to pass along another user’s tweet when you find something relevant and interesting.  I just set up an appointment to meet with a local winery based on my interactions with the winery’s twitter user.  Social media can definitely benefit you and help you to stand out from the many other wineries in your region if you engage regularly and authentically.

Social Media Quick Tips: Blog Commenting Do’s and Don’ts

As a follow-up to the Social Media Workshop I conducted with Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association last week, I will be offering quick tips on best practices and worst practices in social media engagement.

We discussed the value of commenting on wine blogs to build your personal brand and expertise.  One of the things I advised was to comment in a way that isn’t self-promotional, full of fluffy marketing speak, etc. but rather as a way to continue the conversation that is already going on in the post, to add a new perspective on a topic or to educate.  Of course most blogs allow you to include a hyperlink to your winery’s website or blog so that if a reader wishes to he/she can click on the link to find out more about you.

I forgot to mention that it is not advisable or looked upon favorably to promote your own events or  products directly in the comments section.  Bloggers decide what they feel is relevant in creating the content for their readers.  If you write your own event or product content as a blatant way of using the blog for advertising purposes, the blogger and the blog’s readers are likely to be offended by that.

By all means, don’t let this advice scare you from commenting.  I read recently that fear of attack is one of the reasons most readers lurk and don’t comment on blogs.  Just think it through and be authentic, provide insight, resources, a fresh perspective on topic and you’ll see that your comments will be well received.

Announcing Social Media Basics Seminar for Businesses in Finger Lakes Wine Country

Social Media Logos by Sean McColgan.

Have you and your staff been struggling to understand social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr?  Is exploring this something that is still on your to-do list?  Be on the lookout for an email invitation to an upcoming Social Media Basics seminar for businesses in our local community. In part, the invitation reads:

Dear Finger Lakes Wine Country community,

Please join Morgen McLaughlin, President of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing and Melissa Dobson, owner of Melissa Dobson PR and Marketing, for a full-day session on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 from 10 AM-3 PM at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel to address the basics of social media, answer your questions and talk through how social media platforms can help you to create connections with your customers and drive sales.  This will be an intimate, interactive session where your questions and input will be welcome.

Our goal is to educate you and your staff on the different social media platforms and help you to determine
immediate next steps to get your program planned, up and running.  Details to come, but among the key topics
we’ll flesh out during the session are:

* What is Facebook, Twitter, Open Wine Consortium, Flickr, YouTube, top wine blogs and why should I spend time there?
* How do I engage in social media in an effective manner and elevate my company’s brand to my target audience?
* Best practices/worst practices.
* Who should be the voice of my business?
* Current business examples-social media.
* Blogs:  should I start one?  What do I need to consider?  What are the advantages of engaging via blog comments?
* Why should I care what someone is having for lunch?  Isn’t that a waste of my time?
* How does all of this discussion help me to sell more wine, room nights, and tickets?

I would love to hear your questions on social media here so that Morgen and I can address them during the session.

Check out this recent report from FOX Business News on how Ford Motor Company is using Twitter and other social media platforms to humanize the Ford brand and interact and connect one on one with people in an effort to engage in valuable conversations with them.

In an exchange on Twitter with social media visionary Rodney Rumford, Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company summed up their philosophy on the advantage of engaging on Twitter, “It allows us to humanize the brand by connecting 1:1 with people, and it publicly demonstrates our commitment to conversation.”

Take note:  this type of conversation and engagement is now expected by customers and prospective customers.  It’s an important part of long-tail marketing efforts.  And I think you’ll find it to be a fun and engaging way to attract like-minded customers and keep in touch with your biggest fans.

Does Your Winery Have a Facebook Profile Under Your Winery’s Name? If So, Read This.


As you know, I’m a big fan of social media and the power it has to create online conversations and engagement for wineries. Although I have spent a lot of time figuring out the intricacies of several of the platforms, I’m definitely still learning as I go and want to keep you informed as well.

I just received a call from a winery marketing friend who was frantic because her winery’s Facebook profile page had been deleted. It was set up as “XYZ Winery.”  The reason given in an email to her read:

“Per our Terms of Use, Facebook profiles must represent a single individual. Users are not permitted to maintain an account under an organization’s name, or use personal accounts primarily to promote themselves professionally.  We apologize for the inconvenience, but you will no longer be able to use this account. If you were running ads on this account, they’ve automatically been stopped so no new charges will accrue.

If you’d like to represent your entity on Facebook, you’ll need to continue using Facebook Pages. Visitors to your Page won’t have any access to your personal account, or know that you manage the Page.

If you already have a personal account, you’ll need to use it to continue managing your Page, as users aren’t permitted to maintain multiple accounts for any reason. We can transfer your Page to that account if you provide us with the address associated with that account. Please be sure to include all previous correspondence when you reply.

If you don’t yet have a personal account, you’ll need to create one and let us know the email address of that account. Unfortunately, we will not be able free the disabled address for use in creating a new account, so you’ll need to use a new address for this. Again, please be sure to include all previous correspondence when you reply.

When you reply, also let us know if you’d like us to transfer the friends and any notes, posted items, discussion board posts, or wall posts from your disabled account to your new Page. We won’t be able to transfer any friends or content to your profile as your profile is only to be used to represent yourself as an individual. Unfortunately we aren’t able to transfer photos, videos or events from your old account over to the Page at this time.  If you were running ads on this account, they’ve automatically been stopped so no new charges will accrue. We won’t be able to transfer them to any other account.

If you’re also managing a group related to your organization, we can transfer group members and some content from your group to your Page. If you’d like us to do this, please also include your group URL. The group won’t be affected by this change.”

So Facebook is policing their profiles and disabling accounts that represent businesses.  But don’t panic, here’s what you should do if you’re a winery and currently have a profile set up in your winery’s name:

  • Designate one or several winery staff to manage and engage on Facebook.  This is actually the best way to let visitors get to know the people behind your winery and create connections with them.
  • Have the person or persons create a personal profile, in their individual name.  If they have one already, all the better.
  • To promote and engage with Facebook users in your winery’s interest, create a Fan Page or Group Page or both.  For events, you can send invites directly to friends. You can also promote Fan Pages and Groups by clicking on the “Share +” button.   These pages will be linked to your personal account but visitors won’t have access to your personal information.
  • If you have questions or issues, there is no Facebook phone number but they do offer a contact form.

Rather than wait for Facebook to catch up with you and delete your account, please take the time to rectify your profile so that it falls in line with Facebook’s policies.  Don’t let this sour you to this and other social media platforms.  They really are tremendous for small businesses on limited marketing budgets that need to complement their efforts with a low or no-cost (and fun) initiative.

Some other interesting points came to light via a conversation I started about this on Twitter and Facebook just now:

From Robert McIntosh, a wine blogger at Wine Conversation from London:

interesting and not unexpected – it is in the T&C. Would suggest ‘branded’ profiles encourage friends into fan pages quick!

I think wineries should create fan pages, then the PEOPLE (all) behind the winery create profiles and link to it.

I stopped accepting FB friend requests from wineries (not people) a while ago. Not effective anyway!

From Robbin Gheesling, wine blogger at Vineyard Adventures:

Ah yes. Well, I agree with that. Vineyard Adventures is a FAN page and I will not “friend” businesses. I will become a FAN of a business, but adding them as a friend gives them access to all my personal info and I refuse.

And remember, social media participants are really looking to get to know YOU as a person, what your day is like, which new wines you’re releasing and how that works, what your outside interests are, what your dog is up to, etc.  This type of conversation creates connections, believe me.  Check out David Whiting’s profile for  a great example of a winery owner who created a personal Facebook page and subtly promotes Red Newt Cellars Winery there via updates and a fan page.  He also weaves in some personal updates which is what I definitely recommend.  (You’ll only be able to view it if you’ve friended Dave on Facebook.)  Don’t worry,  just be sure to pay close attention to the Terms and Conditions sections of these platforms which is something I learned from all of this.

Winery Marketing: Getting to Know You Via Social Media

The back of my business card

The back of my business card

Looking back on 2008, one of the best decisions I’ve made in regards to starting Melissa Dobson PR & Marketing, was to jump in and engage in social media. Initially skeptical, it didn’t take long for me to realize just how powerful some of the platforms can be for establishing a brand presence. Although informal and personal in nature, there are a few key things to keep in mind before engaging.

Contribute to the discussion by providing resources or links to relevant articles

Think of your target audience and what their needs are. The key here is to contribute and add value to the conversation, don’t simply tout your business or blog. You will establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry and establish trust and credibility. A book I read earlier this year and highly recommend that ingrained this approach in me is Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid.” Although written as a small business marketing system, some of the basic tenets of the book ring true in many situations. Michael recommends that you focus on giving first and building relationships long before you have a proposition.

Be mindful of keeping a balance between personal and business posts

The strength of social media platforms is in the human factor. Yes, we’ll want to hear about your latest business ventures and offerings, but we won’t care until we get to know you. Be yourself, talk about what’s on your mind, post pictures and videos that show your outside interests. In doing so, you’ll attract social media friends and possibly business from like-minded people who connect with you. And as Adam Urbanski teaches in his social media seminars for entrepreneurs, the key to success is to build relationships, educate and entertain. He also recommends that you create your own personality or flavor and connect. People engage with people that they know, like and trust. The way to establish yourself on networks like Twitter and Facebook is to share some of yourself and keep the business-oriented posts to a small ratio of your overall updates. This may seem counterproductive, but in my experience, it isn’t. I’ve seen well-intentioned people turn their followers off by only showing their business faces.  If you’re uncomfortable with this approach, search for some of the people in your industry or a related industry that you admire and respect.  Take a look at their social media interactions.  Use your best judgment and carefully consider what you post because with each update, you’re establishing a brand identity.

Don’t forget to have fun

Social media is a fun way to engage with your friends, prospects and colleagues.  For those of us who work from a home office, it creates a virtual community to tap into for ideas and feedback and is a great way to keep on top of the latest news in your industry and showcase your abilities.

Using Twitter for PR Campaigns

I love the Klondike Contest using Twitter mentioned in this piece and wanted to share it with you. A fun new way to engage your audience!

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